Residents still reeling from CIT heist blast shock

Residents still reeling from CIT heist blast shock

The burned-out truck on the side of the road was the only trace of the dramatic cash-in-transit (CIT) theft on the N4.

Residents as far away as Centurion and the Moot, km from the N4 Watermeyer off-ramp, reported hearing gunfire and feeling the impact of explosions.

Dean Venter was driving from Pretoria East to Pretoria when he narrowly avoided the violence that erupted on the highway on Thursday night when a gang seized on a CIT van.

When the explosives went off, they were roughly five kilometers ahead of the robbery, according to Venter.

“If we left five minutes later, we would have been in the middle of the whole thing,” he said.

Venter said when they got home he struggled to open his car door because of the shockwaves from one of the explosions.

“The impact was so big it felt like a car hit us from behind,” he said.

N4 CIT heist
A burnt out car near the N4 where a CIT heist took place the previous night, 18 March 2022, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda said police were searching for 12 suspects who allegedly stole an unknown amount of money during the heist.

“The cash truck was reportedly driving from Modimolle to a cash depot in Silverton when the incident occurred,” he said.

Netshiunda said a shootout ensued between the suspects and guards.

“Two of the suspects’ five getaway vehicles caught fire at the scene. The driver of the cash truck and his crew were injured and were rushed to hospital,” he said.

Tshwane Emergency Service Management spokesperson Charles Mabaso said they received the call at 9.15 pm to report that a vehicle was on fire on the N4 highway.

“Upon arrival at the scene, they found three vehicles were on fire, of which one of them was a CIT vehicle,” he said.

N4 CIT heist
A burnt out car near the N4 where a CIT heist took place the previous night, 18 March 2022, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mabaso said two male patients were treated for injuries that included facial burns.

“One patient was transported to Meulmed Hospital in moderate to serious condition and the other patient was airlifted to Milpark Hospital in a critical condition,” he said.

According to the police crime statistics for the third quarter of 2021-2022, CITs decreased by five cases reported compared to the previous year in the same time.

From October 2021 to December 2021, 60 CIT robberies were reported compared to 65 in the previous year.

The figure nearly doubled from 39 cases reported in 2019 in the same period.

Criminologist at the University of Limpopo Prof Jaco Barkhuizen said the heist was carefully planned.

“These guys are trained and funded, it meant it had to do with organised crime groups,” he said.

marizkac@citizen.co.za

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